Four and a half hours ago TheWrap‘s Chris Willman posted a thorough rundown of the suddenly-on-again investigation into the death of Natalie Wood almost exactly 30 years ago. In the wee hours of 11.29.81 Wood and husband Robert Wagner argued aboard their yacht, Splendour, about a relationship she may have been having with actor Christopher Walken, Wood’s Brainstorm costar. Walken was a guest that night and, according to former ship captain Dennis Davern, was sleeping in his stateroom during the argument. Soon after Wood disappeared off the yacht, and was found drowned six hours later.
The key question is whether Wagner may have been guilty of refusing his wife aid despite, according to Davern, knowing she was no longer on board and was possibly drowning or fighting for her life. There’s an even darker possibility related to an alleged “thump” that Davern reportedly heard during the argument between Wood and Wagner, but nobody wants to speculate in so many words.
The whole magilla is going to be covered on 48 Hours at 10 pm. Update: The 48 Hours report was way too brief and edited for ADD viewers.
Here’s a key portion from Willman’s piece: “The [L.A.] Sheriff’s Department has suggested they have witnesses or sources to re-interview, though, with everyone agreeing that Walken was asleep, it would come down to Davern’s word against Wagner’s, if police pursue that avenue.”
IF “police pursue that avenue”? The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has announced it’s re-opening the case. There’s no Zapruder-like film or recording of what happened, so what the hell else can they possibly do except try to pressure Wagner into confessing? And once they begin that process, what are the odds (presuming that Wagner is hiding something) that they’ll be successful? One in a thousand? One in ten thousand?
“So RJ, did you angrily knock your wife unconscious (i.e., ‘thump’) and throw her into the bay?”
“So RJ, did you hear your wife’s cries for help that night and deliberately refuse to respond, knowing she’d might drown as a result? Was it your voice that Marilyn Wayne, a woman on a nearby yacht, heard that night, telling Natalie that you’d be out to help her, even though you didn’t?”
What is Wagner going to do…confess? Break down and start weeping and spill his guts, like the guilty parties used to do on the stand during the last ten minutes of the old Perry Mason series?
“So RJ, did Walken sneak out of his cabin while you and your wife were arguing, creep up behind Natalie, seize her and throw her overboard, and then duck back into his cabin?”
Where can the Sheriffs possibly go with this? Their investigation can only be about the empty procedure of testing one man’s word against another’s — a dead end. And listening to whispers and considering the raising of arched eyebrows and going “hmmm….could be.” It’s nothing. All right, maybe it’ll come to something. But how?